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Biden's staff faces renewed accusations of mistreating reporters

FOX News logo FOX News 5/7/2019 Joseph Wulfsohn

Slideshow by Tribune News Service

It has been less than two weeks since former Vice President Joe Biden launched his 2020 bid, but numerous reporters have already voiced their concerns about the treatment they have received from his staff.

Freelance journalist Marcus DiPaola was covering the Biden campaign in Iowa last week where he tweeted the accounts of different reporters, including himself, of their interactions with campaign staffers, which he described to Fox News as "out of line, totally."

One unidentified reporter told DiPaola that while covering campaign events in Iowa, a member of Biden's campaign told the reporter to leave, with the campaign staffer saying she was just doing her job. She then took a photo of the reporter who refused to leave.

Another reporter alleged a Biden staffer "physically put their body" between the reporter and the 2020 frontrunner despite not being that close to the candidate.

"This second reporter tells me the staffer physically invaded their space to the point that the reporter could smell the staffer's ponytail," DiPaola tweeted.

A third reporter shared a similar experience, telling DiPaola that a female staffer physically blocked the reporter from Biden with her body and "blocked his camera shot by putting up her hands."

The three reporters who spoke with DiPaola declined to comment to Fox News. The Biden campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Related video: Joe Biden solidifies frontrunner status as Democratic presidential field takes shape (FOX News)

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Later on, DiPaola said he and other reporters were approached by members of Biden's team while they were staking out an exit on a public lot during a campaign stop, saying they had to leave and couldn't ask questions.

"If you want a secure exit for a candidate, you buy a venue where you can get in and out of the car while you're on private property. But when you're on public property, you have no expectation of privacy or ability to restrict my movement," DiPaola told Fox News.

DiPaola alleged that a staffer tried to block him from getting access to Biden by putting both her arms up in "T" form. He bumped into her and was able to capture Biden's news-making remarks when expressing that he thought Attorney General William Barr should resign.

"It feels like these people think this is a game, which it isn't. This is the only way democracy is going to work: if there's a press that's able to ask questions," DiPaola told Fox News.

Journalists have accused Biden's team of interfering with their work for years.

In 2013, University of Maryland graduate student Jeremy Barr was working as a political reporter for the school's Capital News Service when he was assigned to cover a news conference on a domestic violence grant program. After the news conference ended, he was approached by a young staffer who told him to delete the pictures he took.

"Much to my surprise, she told me that I had violated protocol by sitting in the general audience section rather than at the press table at the back of the room. As such, she said, I had gained an unfair advantage over the rest of the corps," Barr wrote a year later in a piece published in Poynter. "I protested — there was no signage, I was given no seating guidance, and I wore my press credentials at all times — but she was forceful. 'I need to watch you delete those photos. All of them.' She even made me flip through the photos on my iPhone, probably concluding rightfully that I had an adorable baby niece. But no, no secret snapshots of the vice president."

Barr said she "essentially held me against my will" as she sought out a supervisor to ask if she should have him delete his audio recordings as well. He was able to keep them.

Biden's press office issued an apology to Barr and to the university for what had happened.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened but I’m glad it was resolved,” Barr said at the time.

In 2011, a journalist from the Orlando Sentinel was confined to a storage closet during a Florida fundraiser for then-Sen. Bill Nelson that the vice president was attending in order to prevent him from interacting with other guests, who had paid $500 to attend.

Scott Powers, a veteran political reporter, told The Drudge Report that a "low level" staffer hustled him into a storage closet, which the Sentinel described as a "temporary prison," until Biden arrived to make his speech.

"When I'd stick my head out, they'd say, 'Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out,'" Powers told Drudge.

Powers said he was in the storage closet for an hour and fifteen minutes.

The vice president's press secretary issued an apology to Powers.

"This was the unfortunate mistake of an inexperienced staffer and the vice president's office has made sure it will never happen again," Biden spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander said. She explained that members of the press are often placed in a "hold room" at events, but clarified that "a hold room, however, should not be a storage room."

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DiPaola urged Biden and his campaign to honor the "sacred democratic tradition" of press coverage during the election season and to "have more gaggles."

"We push for answers on things that matter to a lot of different people," DiPaola told Fox News. "Don't try to subvert the sacred democratic tradition of the press asking questions of candidates."

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